• Peter Francis Fenwick

Ten Green Bottles

Ten green bottles hanging on the wall.

Ten green bottles hanging on the wall.

And if one green bottle should accidentally fall,

There would be nine green bottles hanging on the wall.

Nine green bottles…

For twenty-five years, there has been a consensus; global warming is caused by humans adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Led by the United Nation’s body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), governments have invested millions of dollars and climate scientists have spent hours in research and built models to prove it.

Everyone knows it is true. The science is settled. 97% of scientists agree. Politicians invest in treaties to deal with the great moral issue of our time. Renewable sources are encouraged and subsidised. Policies are enacted to close coal-fired power stations and ensure no new ones are built.

Disagreement is discouraged. Mark Stein is sued for suggesting that Michael Mann’s hockey stick theory is based on false data. The term “climate change deniers” is coined to denigrate those who question the conventional wisdom. One does not raise one’s concerns at polite dinner parties for fear of offending the guests, or being regarded as an uncaring fool.

Yet there is increasing doubt, readily available on the internet, coming from well-credentialed scientists. Many of them are emeritus professors in areas such as atmospheric physics or geology who no longer need to rely on grants for their career, reputation or livelihood.

If one examines the data carefully, one finds that:

  1. There was global warming between 1915 and 1945 that could not possibly be attributed to increased CO2 in the atmosphere;

  2. Although CO2 emissions increased after the Second World War, the earth cooled between 1945 and 1975;

  3. Of all the carbon emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution, one-third of them have occurred in the past twenty years; yet there has been no appreciable warming since 1998.

Here is the graph that expresses it so well.

A momentous event happened on the 19th June 2017.

In a peer-reviewed paper, published in Nature Geoscience, sixteen climate scientists, including Ben Santer a lead author for the IPCC and Michael Mann of hockey stick fame, raised the possibility that, just maybe, the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may not be causing the predicted global warming.

Here is the abstract from their article:

In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble. Because observations and coupled model simulations do not have the same phasing of natural internal variability, such decadal differences in simulated and observed warming rates invariably occur. Here we analyse global-mean tropospheric temperatures from satellites and climate model simulations to examine whether warming rate differences over the satellite era can be explained by internal climate variability alone. We find that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends are broadly consistent with internal variability. Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%). It is also unlikely that this asymmetry is due to the combined effects of internal variability and a model error in climate sensitivity. We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.

The language is obtuse. Where is Don Watson when we need him? Well even without Don, here is a rough translation:

We got it wrong.

Our models failed to predict the observed results.

There is no confirmed correlation between increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming.

Many eminent scientists have been telling us this for some time now. In a reaction to the “97% of scientists” claim, over 31,000 scientists have signed the following petition:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

In March this year, Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist, formerly Professor of Meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1983 -2013, wrote to the US President. Here is an extract from that letter:

The UNFCCC was established twenty-five years ago to find scientific support for dangers from increasing carbon dioxide. While this has led to generous and rapidly increased support for the field, the purported dangers remain hypothetical, model-based projections. By contrast, the benefits of increasing CO2 and modest warming are clearer than ever, and they are supported by dramatic satellite images of a greening Earth.

We note that:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) no longer claims a greater likelihood of significant as opposed to negligible future warming,

It has long been acknowledged by the IPCC that climate change prior to the 1960’s could not have been due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Yet, pre-1960 instrumentally observed temperatures show many warming episodes, similar to the one since 1960, for example, from 1915 to 1950, and from 1850 to 1890. None of these could have been caused by an increase in atmospheric CO2,

Model projections of warming during recent decades have greatly exceeded what has been observed,

The modelling community has openly acknowledged that the ability of existing models to simulate past climates is due to numerous arbitrary tuning adjustments,

Observations show no statistically valid trends in flooding or drought, and no meaningful acceleration whatsoever of pre-existing long-term sea level rise (about 6 inches per century) worldwide,

Current carbon dioxide levels, around 400 parts per million are still very small compared to the averages over geological history, when thousands of parts per million prevailed, and when life flourished on land and in the oceans.

Calls to limit carbon dioxide emissions are even less persuasive today than 25 years ago. Future research should focus on dispassionate, high-quality climate science, not on efforts to prop up an increasingly frayed narrative of “carbon pollution.” Until scientific research is unfettered from the constraints of the policy-driven UNFCCC, the research community will fail in its obligation to the public that pays the bills.

Jonathan Haidt has pointed out that most people hold their political and religious beliefs emotionally not rationally. It may take more than rational comments by emeritus professors to change the public’s understanding of all this. Meanwhile, our standard of living is being compromised; the energy that drives our prosperity is becoming unnecessarily expensive and unreliable; businesses are closing and employees are losing their jobs. I hope it will not take a recession to get a change of heart.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers hope that Ben Santer’s paper will be the first of many, and it won’t be too long before there will be no green bottles hanging on the wall.

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Peter Francis Fenwick

Writer      Melbourne     Australia

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